Montreal Music Venue Staff Launch Fundraiser After Mass Layoffs

Staff members at a dozen Montreal music venues have lost their jobs because of COVID-19

BY Matt BobkinPublished Mar 26, 2020

On March 14, Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications Nathalie Roy asked all concert venues in the province to close for 30 days in order to slow the spread of the global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. In response, staff of a dozen Montreal music venues, have started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a relief fund to offset their lost wages. 

The money will go toward the 135 staff members who have lost their jobs as a result of these closures, to tide them over while their Employment Insurance claims are being processed, with 10 percent of all funds raised to be held back as an emergency fund.

The recipients of the fund include staff members of Bar le Ritz PDBCasa del Popolo, La SotteraneaLa Sala Rossa, La Vitrola, L'Escogriffe, Barfly, Brasserie Beaubien, Diving Bell Social Club, Quai des Brumes, Resonance Café and Turbohaus.

Since the fundraiser was started on March 20, nearly 300 donors have raised exactly $18,000 (as of press time), which is 13.8 percent of the $130,000 goal. Organizers state that they will be organizing additional fundraising events, including livestreamed concerts, throughout the campaign.

Check out the full GoFundMe campaign and keep reading for the organizers' statement on the fundraiser.

We are raising funds to help support venue staff over the next month while venues are closed and EI claims are being processed. One of the things that defines Montreal is the vibrant live music scene(s) that make their home here. The local shows that happen day in and day out at venues like ours.

The measures taken to address COVID-19 have had a dramatic impact on many people's lives. On March 14th when the minister of Culture and Communications, Nathalie Roy, asked concert venues to close for 30 days  135 workers suddenly lost their livelihood. And while this was absolutely the right call to make it's created a financial squeeze on the folks that work in those spaces.

Several levels of government have promised that aid is on its way but likely before any of that arrives rent is due, the pantries empty, and there are bills to be paid.

While the government has waived the one week wait time to access EI for those who have travelled or have been infected with COVID-19 - this doesn't mean instant approval to EI but rather that the first week without work will be accounted for when EI payments begin, which takes an average of 28 days. This is why we need support over the next month.

When you go to a show we are the people that serve you, take your coat, make you sound your best and clean up after you've gone home. If your experiences with live music have been valuable to you we would really appreciate your support now. 

Read more about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Canadian artists and music venues, and follow Exclaim!'s list of Canadian music and film events affected by coronavirus.

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